Team Story from LOKI and Coiledspring Games is a wonderful narrative based game where you are only limited by your imaginations!
Publisher: LOKI, Coiledspring Games
Designer: Les Fées Hilares
Artist: Chiara Galletti
Release date: 2021
2 -7 Players (but teams can include more)
20 mins +
Favouritefoe score: 8/10
* Narrative * Imagination * Real Time * Semi-cooperative * Accessible * Adaptable * Developing * Visual Skills * Gameschooling *
LOKI (the more kiddie friendly side of IELLO) publish some great games; SOS Dino, Detective Charlie, and Kraken Attack to name just a few. So when Coiledspring offered to allow me to review Team Story, we were so excited!
As you might have guessed from the title, this is a narrative based game. Playing apprentice magicians who are trying to put books back together after a terrible tornado has blown through the magical library, it is your job to put the pages back in the correct order!
But, unlike games where the adventure is there for your little ones to follow or expand upon, this one needs you to build the story yourself! From scratch!
Now, at any age, creating a story out of thin air is great fun. But it can be hard to pluck a plot out of thin air! Luckily for us, however, LOKI have thought of that!
Inside the box, you’ll find two small decks of 60 cards; ones with green backs (adventure) and ones with purple backs (magic). There is also a purple timer, a modular scroll board, a cardboard screen, and the all important score pad! Each deck is also divided into cards which have a “I” or a “II” on them.
Tell Us a Tale!
The concept is very simple, and plays almost the same whether you are playing as a two or in teams.
Each turn, one player (or team) takes on the role of the Storyteller and scribe* and the other plays the Listener. Having decided how long and winding (or short and punchy!) the story is going to be, you click together the required number of scroll sections of the scroll track – bearing in mind that each section has room for two cards.
*(note that if there are more than one on team Storyteller, one person will also be the Scribe aka the person who keeps a record of the cards picked (and hopefully correctly identified!).
Having spread out 20 cards face down (either from a single deck or, by mixing cards “I” and “II” from each of the decks for an even more varied tale!)*, the Storyteller then takes 3 cards into their hand and looks at them.
(Confession time: as you will see from our video, we mixed up cards from “I” and “II” from both decks as we were having so much fun!)
Selecting one of those initial 3 cards, the Storyteller begins their tale using those ageless words “Once upon a time…….”.
As soon as that first card has been incorporated into their story, its number is recorded on the score pad (handily hidden behind the screen – although Mini-meeple also likes using the screen to hide his cards!), and then placed face down on the scroll track. A new card from the remaining face down cards on the table is then selected, and the story continues using another of the 3 cards. This pattern continues until the scroll track has been filled and the story has ended*.
*(if the game is being played in teams, each member takes it in turns to describe a card in the story and one is also nominated as the Scribe)
Are you Listening Carefully?
Once “The End” has been uttered, the Listener has to hope that their ears have been switched on. This is because, in a dramatic twist(!), the Storyteller removes the face down cards from the scroll track, and mixes them up with those still on the table. Then all 20 cards are turned face up, and it is time for the Listener to prove that they were paying attention!
Beginning at, well, the beginning, the Listener has 60 seconds (two turns of the timer) to try and reconstruct the story using as many cards as the Storyteller placed upon the scroll track. Once done, it is then time to check to see if they followed the thread, or got completely tangled up in the details.
If the Listener gets the right card in the right order, that’s two stars for them and one for the Storyteller. If a card was there, but just in a different position, both players get one star each. If a card wasn’t in the story at all, nobody gets any points for that card.
After each player has had a go at being the Storyteller and the Listener, all the points are tallied, and the one with the most is declared the Superior Storyteller!
It’s The Small Things!
Now, if all of cards (which are beautifully illustrated by the way!) were very different, this would be quite straightforward. Afterall, you aren’t going to mistake a traffic cone for a sandwich, whether you’re telling the tale, or listening to it.
But, sneakily, many of the cards are very similar save for a small tweak – Wizard with a hat on/Wizard without a hat on his head, or bunny sitting down/bunny flexing his biceps!
And this means that the Storyteller must exercise their skills in not just weaving an interesting and hopefully sensical tale, but also their ability to describe what they see! Imagination and visual abilities – check!
Teamwork Makes The Dream Work!
One thing I really like about Team Story is the fact that it feels generous throughout. And by that I mean, there is no real advantage or incentive for one player to deceive another.
The Storyteller gains points only when they describe cards well enough for the Listener to pick them out of a random selection containing potentially similar characters or items. And the Listener only gains points (double in fact!) if they have paid close attention to what has been spoken.
In addition, when players work together as the Storyteller, this game further supports the feeling of teamwork. Granted, there can only be one winner – and so nobody is going to forget that this is a competition. But to get to the title of Superior Storyteller, you have to be able to engage the audience as well as listen well. And this takes it out of obvious co-operative game territory, and into that more exciting, less common genre of semi-co-operative game play!
Another plus for the way Team Story is set up is the ability for the game to adapt to the age and experience level of the players. Little gamers? No problem – use a shorter scroll track and do away with the timer. Older players? Sure thing – mix up the decks and reduce the reconstruction time to 30 seconds! The rules add further ways to up the challenge, and I can think of a host of other house rules and variants that could be introduced to make Team Story relevant to a specific topic or setting.
Team Story is superb. Mini-meeple often has reading challenges at school where he has to read a story and then retell it by placing the pictures into the correct order. He calls that homework. When he plays Team Story, however, he calls it fun! He also wants to do it again and again (unlike his homework!), and that is a BIG gold star for the #gameschooling value of this game.
It is also great fun for grown-ups. I am somewhat ashamed by my inability to recall details about mirror carrying dogs, and knights with no trousers on. But I am hopeful that with repeated plays, I too will develop my listening and imagination skills!
The illustrations on the cards are, as mentioned previously, beautiful. They remind me of drawings in the colourful children’s books that I still (sometimes!) get to read to Mini-meeple at bedtime. And that is no real surprise given that they are the work of Chiara Galletti, a talented Italian writer and artist.
The only slightly disappointing thing we found with Team Story is the score-pad. For a game that is so simple and intuitive to play, the design of the score-pad is a little bit confusing.
Overall, however, we are really enjoying playing Team Story. And whether at home or in the classroom; Team Story gives children and grown ups the opportunity to spark their imagination in wonderful ways, whatever their age or ability.
[please note that a copy of this game was kindly provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review but any opinions expressed are my own]